Blancpain’s Fifty Fathoms Barakuda is a Dive into the Past

When it was first released way back in 1953 (the same year Rolex released its iconic Submariner model), the Fifty Fathoms model from Blancpain was one of the only dive watches on the market that could withstand the rough-and-tumble nature of professional diving, especially for those at the top end of the military. As such, it was only available to professional, specialised divers, and would not see itself on the wrists of the general public (in a broader sense) until the ’60s, after it had been distributed to the German Navy via a company called Barakuda.

Today, Blancpain honours this offering to the world of horology by releasing a vintage-styled piece which appropriately harks back to this important era, with the Fifty Fathoms Barakuda: a slimmer, more traditional dive watch, which was revealed to media as part of Time to Move 2019.

Having pulled out of Baselworld for 2019, Swatch Group (which oversees brands including Blancpain, as well as Omega, Tissot, Longines, Breguet and, of course, Swatch) hosted ‘Time to Move’an in-house initiative to showcase some of the enormous company’s latest wares to journalists on their own turf. Man of Many was lucky enough to be in attendance for Time to Move, and saw first-hand some of the latest releases and novelties for the year, just as the manufacturer intended.

Held over three jam-packed days, and with tours of production facilities made available to members of the press who had been invited by Swatch, Time to Move proved an insightful experience and a fitting replacement for the company’s Baselworld efforts, especially for a year filled with super-limited release products.

Quickly becoming a favourite among Frogmen in the early ’50s, the Fifty Fathoms range has long been a go-to for those wanting a durable and reliable diver’s watch. The Fifty Fathoms Barakuda is a new version of the original Blancpain Fifty Fathoms which Barakuda distributed to diving enthusiasts in the 1960s, and it accurately looks back at the timepiece’s storied past, which helped set the standard for what constitutes a diver’s watch (legibility in the dark, a screw down crown and a uni-directional bezel for measuring dive time).

Eschewing the radioactive Tritium of its more recent models, vintage cream adorns the two-tone markers (as was the case with the original civilian models, now a highly sought-after collectable) and hands, which look striking against the clean black backdrop. The slender 40mm case is elegant and understated, and sports very slender crown guards, and prominent but simply styled lugs.

Keeping simplicity at its core, the new model’s dial includes a date window and not much else, and is driven by a twin-barrel Caliber 1151 movement which boasts a power reserve of 95 hours. There’s also a sapphire case back to show off the Fifty Fathom Barakuda’s inner-workings, and a sapphire bezel as well, giving the entire timepiece a noticeable sheen. It is, expectedly, water resistant to 300 metres.

Limited to 500 pieces, this highlight from the inaugural Time to Move is one of the more talked about pieces from the offerings on display, and a fantastic example of how some of Switzerland’s finest horological maisons is looking to the past to satisfy their customers of the future.

Man of Many travelled to Time to Move as a guest of the Swatch Group